Rays acquire reliever Burke Badenhop from Marlins

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Now this is more like what we’re used to seeing from the Marlins: cutting corners by giving away a perfectly useful arbitration-eligible player.

The Rays on Monday picked up right-hander Burke Badenhop from Miami for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies.

It’s a nice get for Tamps Bay. Badenhop’s ERA has climbed slightly, going from 3.75 in 72 innings in 2009 to 3.99 in 67 2/3 innings to 4.10 in 63 2/3 innings last season. However, he finished with the best peripherals of his career in 2011, ending the year with a 51/24 K/BB ratio and just one homer allowed.

Badenhop is a strong groundball pitcher with an 87-91 mph sinker, a quality slider and a below average changeup. It’s not a package that makes him an elite reliever, but as the fourth right-hander in a pen and a guy who can go two innings at a time whenever necessary, he has value. He’s due about $1.4 million in arbitration, and he’ll be eligible for free agency after 2014.

In return for Badenhop, the Marlins receive the 24-year-old Jefferies, a 2008 third-round pick who has failed to develop offensively. He’s come in at .215/.290/275 and .235/.281/.333 in his two years in high-A ball, so he’s a big long shot to ever reach the majors.

Badenhop had been the last Marlin left from the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit in Dec. 2007. The Marlins also acquired Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz and Mike Rabelo in the trade.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.